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Waffleween - Halloween 2 (1981)

Directed by:: Rick Rosenthal
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Dick Warlock, Charles Cyphers, Lance Guest, Leo Rossi, Pamela Susan Shoop, Hunter Von Leer, Ana Alicia, Nancy Stephens

Immediately following the events of the first movie, Curtis has been taken to Haddonfield hospital but Michael Myers is still on the loose.
"Halloween" had become the most profitable independent movie ever so it didn't take a psychic to see a sequel would be on the way. Compared to now when we get a new "Paranormal Activity" movie every October, a three year gap seems like an age. In the intervening years Carpenter's original had spawned dozens of imitations, most of them unwatchable. Thanks to the success of "Friday the 13th", the elements which made Carpenter's film so effective, (suspense, mood, tension and atmosphere), had been replaced with gore and over the top death scenes. Each new slasher flick attempted to outdo the competition by giving us increasingly inventive death scenes. The simple act of stabbing a victim with a kitchen knife had become passe, audiences wanted to see killings which utilized every household implement possible.
Presumably this is the main reason Carpenter sets the sequel in a hospital. There's all manner of sharp implements lying around and plenty of long corridors ideal for stalking. Once again Debra Hill co-writes, though their relationship had become platonic, Carpenter having married his "The Fog" star Adrienne Barbeau. The directorial reins were passed to the relatively inexperienced Rosenthal as Carpenter had little interest in returning. As it turned out, the producers were unhappy with Rosenthal's work, feeling the kills were too generic, and Carpenter was brought back for re-shoots. Most of the scenes involving Myers doing what he does best are those helmed by Carpenter. Despite Rosenthal's commendable attempts to imitate the style of his predecessor, Carpenter's scenes stand out in his use of the widescreen frame, strategically placing Myers for that "He's behind you!" effect.
All this talk of re-shoots and Carpenter's lack of enthusiasm may lead you to believe the film is a mess but that's far from the truth. It never reaches the high watermark of the original but as slashers go it's probably the second best entry in the sub-genre, Carpenter's limited input enough to elevate it above the competition. It also gives us a mythology, establishing a connection to the celtic roots of the Halloween festival, and an "Empire Strikes Back" style revelation concerning Myer's family connections. The character of Loomis is brought to the forefront and Pleasence is given some great monologues which he delivers with manic gusto.
Carpenter returns on soundtrack duties, this time recruiting the aid of synth wizard Alan Howarth. Like the film itself, the score is amped up in a more aggressive manner. Howarth would go on to take over from Carpenter as the series progressed, ensuring the themes set down in the original remained intact. Like the "Halloween" imitations, the score has somewhat of a disco influence, the main theme now featuring a kick drum. The slasher genre is in some ways the film equivalent of disco music, both were kicked off by geniuses but ultimately ruined by talentless hacks seeking a quick buck.
"Halloween 2" is best viewed back to back with the original for the full "night he came home" experience but as a stand-alone slasher it's still one of the best.

Eric Hillis